It started in a pub one Friday night in April 2013, discussing the meaning of life – family – work – work-life balance – why we hadn’t yet won the lottery – and the guest beers.
The quality of the beer was a relief – Alan had just returned after spending another three-month stint overseas.
We contemplated what it would take to start our own brewery.
The Route to a Brewery
After two weeks we went our own separate ways – Andy returning to his highly successful garden planters business in Coventry, Alan returned to work overseas.
Over May – June – July 2013 we each looked into all aspects of starting a brewery: business planning – investment – premises – brewery equipment – beer recipes – customers – marketing – branding – with regular Skype calls.
By August everything was in place, except the premises – a real challenge given the lack of suitable premises for lease in Coventry, our home-town. We searched Coventry and outlying areas with Google-earth and letting agents – even approached numerous pubs – all spaces were unsuitable.
By early August we started to extend our search – when Andy’s premises landlord (at Taylor Made Planters) advised a brewery in Litchborough was to be put up for sale – a working brewery, already to go !!!!
Contract Signature and Takeover
Friday 9th August at 12:30 – Alan steps of flight from overseas – picked up by Andy and driven straight to sign the contract of sale.
Handover of brewery was planned for 1st November 2013 – the brewing starts.
Two very merri merrimen
It’s 2016 and Merrimen Brewing is well established, with a great range of permanent, seasonal and limited edition beers with more planned.
Alan is now undertaking all brewing, as Andy needs to spend more time on his growing business, Taylor Made Planters.
Great news announced in May 2016, as CAMRA award Merrimen’s ‘Very Merri’ the accolade of Champion Beer of Northamptonshire 2016 - Strong Beer Category.
August 2016 and Alan takes over the brewery, freeing up Andy to focus all his time growing his other business.
The Merrimen part company in brewing but continue to remain firm friends, often raising a glass or two or three to the success of both businesses.
The father of British micro brewing, Bill Urquhart at Litchborough Brewery in the 1970’s
History of brewing in Litchborough
The term Microbrewery originated in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s to describe the new generation of small breweries which focused on producing traditional cask ale. The first successful example of this approach was Litchborough Brewery founded by Bill Urquhart in 1975 in the Northamptonshire village of the same name.
Urquhart had been the final head brewer at the large Phipps Northampton brewery when it was closed by owners Watney Mann 1974 to make way for Carlsberg Group’s new UK lager brewery on the site. Alongside commercial beer brewing, training courses and apprenticeships were offered. Many of the movement’s early pioneers passed through Litchborough’s courses prior to setting up their own breweries.
Although originally “microbrewery” was used in relation to the size of breweries, it gradually came to reflect an alternative attitude and approach to brewing flexibility, adaptability, experimentation and customer service.